Mark this day in bhakti history. White Sun, the Los Angeles-based Sikh-tradition mantra-music band, has won The Grammy for Best New Age Album. This is the first Grammy for any artist in the sacred chant/kirtan/bhakti/mantra-music genres of music.
The band’s second album, “White Sun II,” was announced as the winner of the one and only award in the New Age category on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 12, during the pre-broadcast awards ceremony in Los Angeles. The album comprises a line-up of powerful mantras popular in the Kundalini yoga tradition of Yogi Bhajan, delivered with the stunning, ethereal vocals of the band’s lead singer, Gurujas, whose voice has a haunting, otherworldly quality that cuts straight to the soul. She is backed by Harijiwan, Grammy-winning kora player Mamadou Diabate, the Punch Brothers’ violinist Gabe Witcher, tabla player Abhiman Kaushal, and Adam Berry, who provide the richly layered foundation for her vocal magic. The band was founded by Berry, a two-time Emmy winner best known as the music director for the animated television series, “South Park.”
Gurujas, Harijiwan and Berry accepted the award jointly during the webcast of the Grammy winners. Speaking at the podium with deep emotion, Gurujas said: “We just want our music to make something better for somebody somewhere. It’s our dream to see this world a more beautiful place. Anyone who shares that dream: thank you, we love you, and let’s do better.”
“White Sun II” has been highly acclaimed since its release in August 2016, and rose to the No. 1 position on Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon music charts. The band announced recently that the album had been streamed one million times on Spotify. The album won despite competition from a very competitive field of New Age stalwarts that included four-time Grammy winner Enya, Greek composer Vangelis, and 12-time Grammy Nominee Peter Kater.
With the Grammy win, White Sun has accomplished what no other kirtan artist has been able to. Krishna Das famously nabbed the New Age nomination in 2012 for “Live Ananda,” and also became the first kirtan artist to play at the Grammys. Jai Uttal broke the ground a decade earlier with his nomination for “Mondo Rama.” And just last year, a relatively unknown kirtan artist from the Krishna tradition, Madi Das Brinkman, was nominated for the groundbreaking charity album “Bhakti Without Borders.”
Here is the band receiving the Grammy:
Also see: www.whitesun.com
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